Studiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939-1945

Evaders


Evader chart: E0481
SGLO Date crash Aircraft
T3651 07-05-44 B-17 Flying Fortress
MilRank First Name(s) Name
2/Lt. Walter James Tyson
Milregnr. Nationality Born
O-754987 American New York, USA, 21 May 1920
Returned Y/N Evader Fate Date Captured/Liberated Place Captured/Liberated Escape Line
Yes EVD 14 Apr 45 Heerenveen -
Evader Story
						2/Lt. Walter J. Tyson was the bombardier of B-17 Flying Fortress 42-38161 'Sara Jane'. On the approach to their target Berlin on May 7, 1944, the crew was confronted with 'serious engine trouble'. The propeller of the nr.4 engine came off, damaging the nr.3 engine and losing speed and height, the Fortress had to leave the formation. Near Heerenveen, four crew members including Tyson bailed out. Five men remained aboard and they were taken prisoner after the pilot had made a wheels-up landing just north of Nijelamer.

Tyson descended near Oldeholtwolde and soon after his landing met fellow crew members 2/Lt. Roy Bistline (E0479), the navigator, and T/Sgt. James R. Wilson (E0482), the engineer. Quite some Dutchmen had seen their descent and gathered curiously around the Americans while they were looking at their escape map to find out where to go. Seventeen-year-old Jacob Heida accosted them and then urged them to leave in a hurry as the Germans were nearby. When they asked where to go, Jacob told them to follow him. He took the three airmen to the Hartkamp family in Oldeholtwolde where they stayed for half an hour. They were then hidden in a small underbrush near the farm and told to wait to be picked up that night. Meanwhile German patrols were searching the area for the downed airmen. That night, Jacob Heida and his brother Jaap collected the three airmen from their temporary hide-out and guided them through the fields to the Tjonger. F. v/d Bosch from Mildam was waiting there with a rowing boat and took them across this stream. On the other bank, Jacob and Jaap took the three airmen to a large dug-out in the vicinity of their father's farm.

The next day, the three Americans were collected by resistance leader Lambertus Koopman from Heerenveen who already had S/Sgt. Thomas Reilly (E0480), the tail gunner of ‘Sara Jane’ in his car. Koopman returned home with the four Americans who were then provided with civilian clothing. Because Koopman was active in the resistance, he thought it better to find safer hiding addresses for the airmen. Tyson and Reilly moved to the house of widow van der Laan at the Mr. Halbe Binnertsstraat 49 in Heerenveen while Bistline and Wilson went to stay with the Hoekstra family at the Verl. Korflaan 83 in the same town. Early in August, Tyson joined Bistline at the Hoekstra family while Wilson, together with Reilly, travelled to Doornspijk. On August 23, Bistline and Tyson moved to the house off the widow Peereboom-Zwanenburg, who lived at the Gedempte Molenwijk 86 in Heerenveen. Shortly before Christmas 1944, they were joined here by S/Sgt. Richard A. Trombley (E0905) who had been waist gunner on the B-17 ‘Seattle Sleeper’. The three airmen stayed at this address until the liberation of the area by the Canadian Army on April 15, 1945.

Walter Tyson passed away in March 1973 at the age of 52. He is buried at Long Island National Cemetery, East Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York, USA.						
Source(s)
* National Archives, Washington, MACR 4559 (NAID: 90962745)
* National Archives, Washington, EE-2962
* National Archives, Washington, Helper Files, NAID: 286658812, 286658825, 286686702, 286668540, 286698387, 286660960, 286679582
* W.H. de Vries, De regio tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog (Wolvega 1995), page 59-65